A great night at the Clavie

Last night was the Annual Clavie night in my village of Burghead it was a superb evening. The village was packed and folk from far and wide came to see this incredible night! I had pals from Applecross, Beaully and local folk who came over to share the night. We we not disappointed. The weather was superb and the action kicked off at 1800 next door to me and then the Clavie was lit and carried round the town by the Clavie crew. Throngs of visitors and locals enjoyed the fire festival it ends up on Clavie hill where it is burnt and becomes an incredible evening!

Why 11th January? This is the date of the Burning of the Clavie, a fire festival unique to Burghead, which greets the New Year. The significance of the 11th January dates back to the 1750’s, when the Julian calendar was reformed in Britain. The new Gregorian calendar was introduced. People rioted, demanding back their 11 days – but not in Burghead. Brochers decided to have the best of both worlds, by celebrating New Year twice – on 1st January and the 11th January.

Therefore, every 11th January the flaming Clavie (a barrel full of staves) is carried round the town followed by a large crowd. The final destination of the Clavie is on the Doorie Hill on the ramparts of the ancient fort, where it is firmly wedged and after refuelling is allowed to burn out and fall down the hill when still smouldering embers are eagerly gathered. Possession of a piece of the Clavie is said to bring good luck for the coming year and pieces are sent around the world to exiled ‘Brochers’.

The Burning of the Clavie dates much further back than the 1750s, of course. Like many other fire festivals, its origins are lost in the mists of time.

Photos the Swadel family collection

Two of my pals had not seen the event before and it was a scene from a film as the Clavie crew throw buckets of pitch etc at the burning barrel light up in the winters sky what a night. It is good luck to get a bit of the burnt staves and many are taken and given to the locals. The town was mobbed and the pubs and houses busy.

We had a great night superb company in my wee house with pals and two collies celebrating the Pictish New Year with all that goes with it. It was great to see everyone and have some fun company and lots if memories of a great night!

Today we all had breakfast in the now famous Bothy across the road and the Clavie King Dan Ralph and his family were there. It was a great meal and superb crack! Then two big walks down the beach and forestry with the dogs and a chilled afternoon.

Last night was special thanks to all especially the Clavie crew who made it all possible along with the Police, Firemen, Stewards,locals and visitors who made this night special.

I would put in your diary the Pictish New Year 11 Jan 2019 for a great night see you next year!

Thanks to The Swaddel family for the photos of a magical night ad for all those who came over and sorry to those we missed>

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
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